A blog written by Hand Made Places
For a safe playground, surfacing should always be considered right from the design stage.
Hand Made Places have all the expertise needed to ensure playgrounds are safe, compliant and - most of all - fun.
Whether it is discussing the properties of different surfacing types, or advising on the most effective option based on site conditions, the Hand Made Places team works in partnership with clients to deliver the best playgrounds in the UK.
A safety surface is designed and installed for the main reason of reducing the severity of injury to users who may fall from playground equipment.
Critical fall height guidance requires certified flooring to be installed under and around play equipment with free fall heights of 0.6m and above when they are fitted into hard ground. Well maintained grass is considered a suitable surface for equipment with a critical fall height of up to 1.5m.
But even in the case of low-level play equipment, there may be surfacing needs to factor into the layout, design and installation of an outdoor learning zone, sensory garden or playground.
What are the playground safety standards?
The standards BS EN 1176 and BS EN 1177 outline what safety surface (referred to as an impact attenuating surface) is required and when it should be used.
For static and rocking equipment, the protected area should extend at least 1.5 metres around the equipment. This applies to fall heights from 0.6 metres to 1.5 metres. Thereafter the distance rises up to 2.5 metres around the equipment at the maximum permitted fall height of 3.0 metres.
A safety surface is not required, according to the standards above, for any critical fall heights below 0.6m although Hand Made Places always recommend one.
You will find details of the critical fall heights of all Hand Made Places timber play equipment in the specifications section on individual product pages on their website.
Even when a critical fall height comes in at under 0.6m some of the traditional safety surfaces used in the industry have secondary benefits that are important for a quality outdoor play experience.
When there is no legal requirement for protective surfacing, it is still recommended by organisations including RoSPA of which Hand Made Places is a member.
Different types of playground surfacing
Hand Made Places offer several different surfacing options.
The best type of playground surfacing will not only meet safety standards but will also complement the aesthetics of nearby surroundings, take into account risks such as security and vandalism and serve the specific needs of the community using the play area.
Schools for example may consider a playground surface that comes complete with traditional markings such as hopscotch grids.
A community playground in a rural village may opt for the natural look of artificial grass surfacing.
Bound rubber mulch may be the answer in an urban play area, or wet pour can produce exciting and artistic playscapes.
Even existing grass surfaces can be improved with specialist matting which works to control mud.
Drainage, underground services and foundations and the existing landscape are also crucial factors to discuss in relation to surfacing.
It is vital that the installation of play equipment and related surfacing is carried out by professionals to be sure it remains safe and durable.
Check that your installers, like Hand Made Places, are registered with the Association of Play Industries (API) which promotes best practice in the industry.
High quality playgrounds from top to bottom
Budget and timescale should be factored into any playground project and a reputable play company like Hand Made Places will discuss these with you from the start of your enquiry.
The Hand Made Places teams work with customers to achieve the maximum play value with the resources available while never compromising on quality and safety.
View Playground Equipment Product Entry